Frequently Asked Questions

I plan on buying a fiberglass canoe. Why should I buy a Clipper over another brand?

The reason for purchasing a CLIPPER is simple. With over 30 years of experience building canoes for use in the rugged Northwest, we have seen over 40 other canoe manufactures come and go. Western Canoeing has a reputation for building canoes that are designed and constructed to withstand the demanding conditions encountered in the Northwest. Buy a Clipper and be assured you’ve bought a quality craft that will provide you with years of enjoyment.

Does a canoe’s width determine its stability?

No, not always. Many excessively wide canoes (37″ or more) are built with relatively round hulls to keep the bottom from flexing too much. Canoes with a beam of 36″ or less can be built with a flatter or more shallow-arch design, thus increasing a canoe’s initial stability.

If width isn’t the most important characteristic in determining a canoe’s stability, then what is?

The shape of the hull and the placement of the seats. Seats placed high near the gunnel result in a canoe with a high centre of gravity, and low initial stability. Seats placed too far back towards the centre of the canoe cause the bow paddler to move towards one side or the other to paddle comfortably. The stern paddler must compensate by leaning the other way. Then the paddler’s centre of gravity is outside the centre of buoyancy.

What type of canoe should I use for ocean canoeing?

Clipper manufactures several tandem canoes for ocean tripping. The 18’6” MacKenzie will have the largest capacity. The 18’6” Sea Clipper will be the fastest. The 17’6” Tripper, while smaller than the other two, will nicely manage most ocean challenges. All three can be ordered with Expedition spray skirts. For solo paddling check out the Clipper Sea-1.

What type of canoe repair kit should I carry for wilderness tripping?

Duct tape will solve the most common type of problem encountered. If you are planning an extended wilderness trip, a kit with coldcure epoxy and fiberglass cloth will repair more serious mishaps. Coldcure will work under damp, cool conditions.

Why are footbraces used?

To increase the paddling efficiency and comfort of the paddlers. A canoe is pulled up to where the paddle enters the water by transferring the energy the paddle creates, to the footbrace. When no footbrace is used, a paddler can pull himself off his seat with each stroke. By using a footbrace, a paddler can paddle in a more relaxed position, thus reducing tension and fatigue on a long trip. A footbrace is one of the most important accessories included with most Clippers.

How old should children be before they are taken on their first overnight canoe trip?

Our children were introduced to canoeing while still in Mom’s snugly. They then graduated up to their own PFD and car seat which was naturally fixed with its own flotation (Don’t buckle them in). We’ve taken both our boys on 10-day camping trips in the Broken Islands in their third year. They were easier to care for than if they were at home, and twice as content. That’s not to say that just anybody should try it, but don’t cancel or postpone your interest in canoeing because of the kids. You’re cheating them and yourselves if you do.

Is Kevlar® worth the extra price compared to fiberglass?

It depends on how you are going to use it. A Kevlar® canoe is as strong as fiberglass and lighter. If you only plan to use the canoe up at the cabin a few times in a year, the answer is probably no. But if you plan any wilderness trips, extended portages, racing or whitewater paddling, the answer is definitely “yes.” The light weight of Kevlar® canoes makes them ideal for people unable to lift standard canoes. Kevlar® canoes can be custom-built to your specifications. For example, when a Kevlar® canoe is to be used extensively in whitewater, we recommend a Kevlar® Duraflex laminate. If you can afford the extra cost of a Kevlar® canoe, you’ll never regret it.\

What is meant by “trimming” a canoe?

Normally, a canoe should ride level, with the bow and stern being at equal depths in the water. A canoe trimmed level tracks straighter and paddles easier. When encountering a headwind, a canoe tracks straighter and paddles easier if it is slightly bow heavy; adjust accordingly if you are encountering large waves. When paddling with a following wind, trim the stern heavy and allow the bow to follow the direction of the wind. (The stern paddler can best judge the trim of a canoe.) To adjust the trim of a canoe, move either the cargo or the paddlers’ position. This is most easily done if the canoe has a sliding bow seat. It is then a simple matter for the bow paddler to slide forward. If you’re confused as to whether or not your canoe is level, simply scoop some water into the bottom of the canoe and adjust the trim until the water “seeks” out the centre of the canoe when paddling. Unfortunately, most other brands of canoes built for general recreation are trimmed for whitewater, with a stationary bow seat too far towards the stern. The bow rides high, which makes it difficult to keep the canoe on course.

Does a canoe need a keel in order to track properly?

No. Keels are placed on some canoes for structural reasons. For example, a keel joins the two halves of an aluminum canoe, and keels will reduce the oil-canning in cheap fiberglass and plastic canoes. A properly designed canoe doesn’t require a keel in order to track well. A good example of this is a racing canoe. They are very straight tracking, and you will never see one with a keel.

Why do some canoes have seats that are placed low?

This type of seating is designed to provide excellent stability without kneeling. It is usually much more comfortable to sit in a canoe than it is to kneel, especially when equipped with a footbrace, and you are in a stronger paddling position in all cases except when paddling in rough whitewater.

Why do many modern canoe designs have bow and stern profiles that are relatively straight vertical compared to traditional canoes with recurved bows and sterns?

Modern cruising and touring canoes are more streamlined and track better than traditional styles. Entry and exit lines that are nearly straight up and down create a more streamlined hull. They also increase the tracking characteristics of the hull by increasing the length of the canoe’s actual waterline.

What is the greatest cause of damage to canoes?

We have repaired dozens of canoes at our factory, from a wide variety of manufacturers, and the biggest single cause of damage seems to be “flying” off a car roof while driving down the road. Second, is improper storage (wind damage) and third is damage occurring in whitewater (much of this could be avoided by using float bags). Heavy snowfall in the Northwest this year has caused many canoes (of all makes and materials) to crack under the tremendous weight of snow. When you shovel the driveway, clean off your canoe as well.

Is the carrying capacity of a canoe important?

Yes…especially if you are planning wilderness trips or whitewater canoeing. Generally, the greater the length and fullness of the canoe, the larger its carrying capacity.

I’ve been told by a so-called expert canoer that the seats in my Tripper are too low and that my bent shaft paddles are too short.

Have patience. Many “expert” paddlers learned their skills years ago before footbraces were available, so seats were purposely placed high for kneeling. Kneeling offered stability and helped the paddler remain on his seat when he stroked. When a canoeist adopts a modern style of paddling and uses a footbrace, he is able to do a more efficient stroke than kneeling allows, and he is able to lock his knees under the gunnel for a “five point brace”. Tell your friend that you can’t kneel due to an old football injury.

A friend told me not to buy a canoe that is constructed with rivets as they will leak. Is this true?

No. Rivets are used in many structures, from airplanes to aluminum canoes. When Clipper uses rivets they are self sealing rivets at or below the waterline and each one is used with a waterproof compound. By using rivets in the seat angle, we can place the seats lower instead of sacrificing stability by putting them up near the gunnel.